The Blame Israel First Crowd - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
The Blame Israel First Crowd

Roger Cohen urges presumed Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to show “tough love” toward Israel in his latest column. His argument rests on the premise that if only Israel compromises more –withdraws from the West Bank and East Jerusalem — there can be peace. The article is based around some comments made by outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, whose administration was an abject failure and whose approval ratings were in the single digits even before it was rocked by scandal that will likely lead to his indictment. If making peace were as simple as this, then we would have had it 40 years ago, but the problem has always been that a large enough segment of the Palestinian people do not want to accept any Israeli state at all. As I wrote a few weeks ago, no matter how earnest you assume that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is in his desire for peace, as long as he exerts no influence over Hamas in Gaza, there can be no security for Israelis, and thus, no peace. Cohen does not even bother mentioning Hamas.

Throughout his column, Cohen repeats several times that Israelis have to be willing to give up parts of Jerusalem, as if this were a bold new suggestion. But we’ve already been down this road before. The 2000 peace offer made by Ehud Barak divided Jerusalem, giving the Palestinians the eastern part of the city, and the Palestinians rejected it. Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as merely dividing up Jerusalem. The most contentious area comes when you get to the holy sites, and when you visit the city and see how the competing holy sites are physically on top of and intertwined with each other, you get a good sense of why peace has been so elusive.

Let me be clear about something: I’m not one of those dead-enders who believes that Israel should never give up an inch of land. I think a two-state solution with Palestinians in control of the West Bank and Gaza is the best of many imperfect alternatives. But I also recognize that getting there is a lot easier said than done. And I have little patience when writers such as Cohen completely oversimplify everything, especially by arguing that peace would be at hand if only Israel does exactly what it tried to do eight years ago.

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